It can be hard to talk about death, and sometimes it’s a lot easier to connect through music. Luckily, country music is filled with great ballads. There are plenty of tunes about death or dedicated to loved ones who have died that could bring you comfort.
Check them out below.
1. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill
In 1995, Vince Gill scored the most powerful hit of his career, thanks to “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” It won CMA for Song of the Year and took home Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Male Country Performance too.
He started writing the song as an elegy to a friend and former bandmate, Keith Whitley but was only able to finish it after his brother’s death. This song, which encourages a troubled love one to finally find peace now that the difficult life is all over, has become one of the most widely requested songs for funerals.
Gill has sung “Go Rest High on That Mountain” at several notable funerals too, including those of Little Jimmy Dickens, George Jones, and Ralph Stanley.
“I wrote this song, and I didn’t have any idea if anybody would want to hear it or like it,” Gill said. “All I wanted to do was grieve for [Bob, his brother] and celebrate his life. That’s how I always process grief: sit down with a guitar and make something up. Turns out that if anybody remembers any of my songs, it’ll be this one.”
2. “Over You” by Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert wrote “Over You” with her then-husband Blake Shelton about the death of Shelton’s older brother, Richie, due to a car accident in 1990. Richie was only 24 at that time.
The song speaks to the raw emotion as well as anger that most people would feel after losing someone. Both Shelton and Lambert cried when they wrote the song. Shelton also asked Lambert to record the song because it would be too hard for him.
“He said, ‘I think it’s better if you record it. Honestly, I don’t think I can get through singing it every night on stage, so what’s the point?'” Lambert revealed.
3. “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell
“You Should Be Here” is Swindell’s debut single and title track of his sophomore album in 2016. It was written about Swindell’s heartache over the unexpected death of his father while he was out on tour after signing his record deal.
The song became a No. 1 on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts and was certified a double-platinum hit as it inspired the fans all over the country to share their own stories of loss.
“I’m not the only one who has ever lost somebody; I’m not the only one who was missing somebody. That’s what I love about country music, that’s what I love about songwriters, is being able to put out those words, those feelings.” Swindell said. “From the first lyric and note of the song, it’s got that feeling about it, and that’s what we tried to do.”
4. “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” by Toby Keith
This mid-tempo country ballad was written as a tribute to Oklahoma Sooners’ star Wayne Tisdale who lost his battle with cancer in 2009. Toby Keith developed a deep friendship with Tisdale, built from a love of sports, music, and Oklahoma.
In the song, Keith says of Tisdale, “You showed me how I’m supposed to live, and you showed me how to die.” There is a strength, a passion, and a deeper meaning to those lyrics that only those closest to Tisdale would understand.
5. “Sissy’s Song” by Alan Jackson
In this beautiful tribute ballad, Jackson remembers his family’s housekeeper, Leslie “Sissy” Fitzgerald, who worked daily at Jackson’s household. She died in a motorcycle accident in May 2007.
“When people get old, you expect them to die, but it’s different when they are young, and it’s tragic like that,” Jackson said about the woman who looked after their whole house.
Through his musical gift, Jackson expressed his sadness over Sissy’s death in the song, hoping that “she flew up to heaven on the wings of angels.” The country hitmaker sang Sissy’s Song at her funeral.
6. “One More Day” by Diamond Rio
“One More Day” is a heart-wrenching song written by hit songwriters Steven Dale Jones and Bobby Tomberlin. The song is about wishing that a loved one who passed away would return for just one more day.
With a chorus that goes, “One more day, one more time/One more sunset maybe I’d be satisfied/But then again I know what it would do/Leave me wishing still for one more day with you,” this song became a hit on country charts. It was nominated for multiple awards, including a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.
7. “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” by Steve Wariner
In Steve Wariner’s touching tale of faith, loss, and mourning, the narrator endures both the death of his grandmother as well as his young wife, who tragically died after giving birth to their daughter.
To get through with those losses, he was told that each time it rains, it means there are “holes in the floor of heaven, and her tears are pouring down. That’s how you know she’s watching, wishing she could be here now.”
“Holes in the Floor of Heaven” was penned by Wariner and Billy Kirsch. A line from a novel that Kirsch’s wife read inspired Kirsch to write the song. However, it wasn’t until the death of his grandmother, that Kirsch and Wariner sat down to finally write the song.
8. “I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice
The real story behind Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck” is so powerful that it’s difficult for its songwriters to discuss it without choking up. Even Brice broke down the first time he heard it.
Connie Harrington was listening to NPR when she heard an interview with a man whose son had died in the war in Afghanistan. For the father to feel closer to his son, he would drive his son’s truck. Harrington shared the story with fellow songwriters Jimmy Yeary and Jessi Alexander, and they wrote the song, which eventually made it to the top of the country charts.
9. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss
“Whiskey Lullaby” is a song about two people in love who drink themselves to death. It was written by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall following some struggles in Randall’s personal life. Randall lost his marriage, his record deal, and his publishing deal in just a couple days.
It was actually written five years before Paisley recorded it. “People weren’t lined up down the street looking for double-suicide drinking songs,” Anderson said about the delay. Still, the song became one of Paisley’s biggest hits, earning him CMA Awards trophies for Song of the Year and Musical Event of the Year.
10. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones
This is probably the most heartbreaking song of all time. Even Jones thought the song would not be a hit, because of its morbid message, with lyrics “He stopped loving her today / They placed a wreath upon his door / And soon they’ll carry him away / He stopped loving her today.”
What’s even more ironic was that Jones’s own health was failing, and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” turned out to be the last song he ever performed.
11. “Why” by Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney penned this heartfelt slow-tempo song that captures the feelings of those who are left behind after a loved one takes their own life. A surge of emotions flow of how they could have prevented the tragedy.
“That song, in particular, was a really tough one to cut because all of our lives have been affected by suicide,” says DeMarcus.
12. “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood co-wrote this song about reuniting with a loved one in heaven with Nashville songwriter Hillary Lindsey and former Evanescence member David Hodges. The powerful ballad has lyrics that are a spin on death.
“It’s of course very sad to lose somebody here on Earth, but having that faith and knowing that you’re going to see them again is such an amazing thing, such a comforting thing, such a happy thing. That’s what the song is all about,” Underwood explained.
13. “Sweet Old World” by Lucinda Williams
“Sweet Old World” was written as a tribute to a friend who committed suicide. Williams penned the song in 1979 after poet Frank Stanford killed himself with three gunshots to the heart.
The song is full of contemplations about life, death, and all that we leave behind. Every time Williams sing the song, the audience will burst with both sorrow and anger.
14. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks wants us all to step back and reflect on our lives with “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” He co-wrote the song with Kent Blazy, thinking what would happen to his wife if he was to die.
With lyrics, “If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?” it’s a sentiment that rings as true today as when it was released.
15. “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts
“What Hurts The Most” was written by Steve Robson and Jeffrey Steele. Steele revealed that his father’s death initially inspired the song, and he just wanted to express it.
However, he ended up changing the meaning and made it more of a love song to be more universal. “What Hurts the Most” took home the BMI song of the year at the annual BMI Country Awards ceremony in 2007 while Jeffrey Steele was awarded the BMI Songwriter of the Year for this song.
16. “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan, with the help of Chris Stapleton, recorded this mournful eulogy for his older brother, who died in a car accident and his sister, who unexpectedly died. They never got an answer as to what exactly caused her death.
Bryan described “Drink a Beer” as the coolest sad song he’s ever recorded. “It was something that everybody can connect with because so many people out there have lost somebody,” the country star said.
17. “Believe” by Brooks & Dunn
“Believe” is an extremely successful song. It won the 2006 Country Music Association’s Single of the Year, Song of the Year, as well as Music Video of the Year. But it’s a real tearjerker.
The lyrics include: “I can’t quote the book/The chapter, or the verse/You can’t tell me it all ends/In a slow ride in a hearse.”
18. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney
To someone who’s gone too soon, “Who You’d Be Today” carries a load of reminiscent vibe. “It ain’t fair, you died too young / Like a story that had just begun,” Chesney sings.
The narrator in the song describes how much he has missed that person and asks what their life could be like if they were still alive. The song ends hopefully knowing they’ll see each other again someday.
19. “You’re Gone” by Diamond Rio
“You’re Gone” is a song written by Jon Vezner and Paul Williams. The song came about when Vezner and Williams were discussing the death of one of Williams’ old friends, including other people who greatly influenced their lives.
“It just seemed like what we should write about are the people who are no longer in our lives who had a positive effect on us,” Williams said.
20. “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
“The Dance” is perhaps Garth Brooks’ most iconic and absolutely a fan favorite song. Some might think it’s a love-gone-bad song, but it’s more than that.
“It’s always been a song about life. Or maybe the loss of those people that have given the ultimate sacrifice for a dream that they believed in,” Brooks said.
Other Country Songs About Sorrow, Grief and Losing Someone
21. “If You Get There Before I Do” by Collin Raye
22. “If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw
23. “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney
24. “I’m Already There” by Lonestar
25. “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw
26. “If I Had Only Known” by Reba McEntire
27. “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore
28. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell
29. “When a Hero Falls” by Stephen Cochran
30. “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley
31. “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” by Keith Whitley
32. “There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill
33. “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” by Patty Loveless
34. “A Lot of Things Different” by Kenny Chesney
35. “I Still Miss You” by Keith Anderson
36. “If Only I Could Only Bring You Back” by Joe Diffie
37. “The Funeral” by Hank Williams
38. “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood
39. “Angels Among Us” by Alabama
40. “Ships Of Heaven” by Blackhawk
41. “Threaten Me With Heaven” by Vince Gill
42. “A Picture of Me” by George Jones
43. “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts
44. “I Can’t Write That” by Jeff Bates
45. “Angels in Waiting” by Tammy Cochran
46. “Go On Without Me” by Brett Eldredge
47. “Chiseled in Stone” by Vern Gosdin
48. “Last Day of My Life” by Phil Vassar
49. “If I Don’t Make It Back” by Tracy Lawrence
50. “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis
Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Cole Swindell, Diamond Rio, Garth Brooks, George Jones, Lee Brice, Lucinda Williams, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, steve wariner, Toby Keith, Vince Gill
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